GoViral: See How Cold & Flu Are Spreading in Your Community
This post was written by Sofia Ahsanuddin, a Research Associate at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Sofia works on GoViral, a project aimed at determining how and where cold and flu viruses are spreading. At Kinsa, we’re on a mission to track and stop the spread of all contagious disease, so we’ve teamed up with GoViral as we try to make the world a healthier place, together. See how you can join GoViral to track cold and flu in your area!
Ever wonder why people get sick in the first place? While getting the flu or a cold is common for people of all ages, our symptoms are often not severe enough for us to visit a doctor or hospital. Rather than seeking medical attention for our illness, many of us just take the day off from work or school in order to recover.
Until now, research on this topic has mostly focused on tracking the spread of the flu in clinical settings. However, there is little information and knowledge of how those less severe cases of the flu and cold viruses spread and migrate throughout a community.
To address this knowledge gap, our research team at NYU initiated a novel study called GoViral that aims to:
- Investigate how viruses spread throughout human populations (i.e. New York City)
- Determine local risk and spread of viruses by zip code
- Better predict where viruses spread next
- Improve our understanding of levels of infection
By enabling sick community members to self-collect nasal specimens (yep, the stuff in your tissue), the GoViral Study uses a fun and interactive citizen science study design to help members like you better understand your own health. With your participation, we can map the spread of the flu and other acute respiratory infections throughout communities like yours. Capturing this kind of information can help everyone gain a better understanding of how illnesses spread, enabling community members, public health practitioners, and policymakers to take action that limits the spread of the flu in future seasons. Watch this video to learn more about the study.
Interested in participating? Sign up for the study online and make sure to use the code KINSA! Using our brand new interactive website, you can report your symptoms on the weekly surveys and request a respiratory specimen kit. If you or anyone in your family falls sick, you can then self-collect a nasal specimen (instructions found here) and send it to a lab where we can determine which viruses are present in the specimens. Feel free to check out our GoViral website for aggregate, anonymized images of the viruses circulating New York City!
Since we launched in September, we have had over 400 signups. With your participation as a part of the Kinsa community, we are hoping to get over 1,000 participants!
- We detected a viral illness in 46% of the kits we received last year
- Of those, 13% were influenza while 38% were coronavirus
- 74% of individuals missed school or work due to illness
- 81% of individuals did not go to see a doctor, or go into a hospital, because of their illness
This season we are focusing our efforts on New York City, so all Kinsa participants in the local area are encouraged to sign up using our website or iOS app called “GoViral Study.” For those with kids, you can report a specimen on behalf of anyone in your family.
Help us track illness in your area! As a token of our love and appreciation, the first 1,000 participants to receive our kit and fill in at least 4 weekly surveys get a $5 Amazon gift card. Happy sampling!
*The GoViral study is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), approved by New York University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), and run by Dr. Rumi Chunara at The New York University Tandon School of Engineering and College of Global Public Health. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Chunara's research, please click here or visit her lab's website.